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Immaculate Conception Catholic Church
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The Immaculate Conception Church was built in 1857 and restored in 1955
Color photo by Candice Pauley, courtesy of Cane River National Heritage Area, historic photograph courtesy of Cammie G. Henry Research Center, Northwestern State University of Louisiana

Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, located in the heart of the Natchitoches Historic District, is descended from a line of Catholic Churches dating back to a small chapel at Fort St. Jean Baptiste, built only a few years after the town's founding. Immaculate Conception opened its doors in 1857, though construction of the church was not entirely completed until 1892. The name of the church changed several times, until it received its current name, Immaculate Conception. The church was classified as a cathedral until the Episcopal See was moved to Alexandria in 1910.

All of the interior furnishings of the church were imported from France, with the exception of the pews. Much more elaborate than its predecessors, Immaculate Conception features a hand-carved baptismal font, hand-painted Stations of the Cross and several chandeliers. Leading to the choir loft is an interesting spiral staircase with no central support. Across the street from the church stand the seminary, bishop’s house and the old rectory. The seminary was built in 1855, and the bishop’s residence was added on later. The rectory was originally built in New Orleans in 1885, but was dismantled and shipped to Natchitoches. Currently, the bishop’s house and seminary serve as the Bishop Martin Museum, housing many of the church’s artifacts and records.

[photo] Interior of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church
Photo by Candice Pauley, courtesy of Cane River National Heritage Area

Immaculate Conception was restored between 1955 and 1956, during which the front vestibule was added. Since then the distinctive outline of Immaculate Conception Church has been a centerpiece of the historic district. The local Catholic community continues to care for this church and its grounds, making it one of the most beautiful in the state. The congregation has recently raised 1.2 million dollars to restore and modernize the historic house of worship.

Immaculate Conception Catholic Church is located at 145 Church St. within the boundaries of the Natchitoches Historic District. The church holds mass Sunday at 9:00am and 11:00am, Saturday at 5:00pm, and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday at 6:30am. The church is open to the public from 6:30am to 4:00pm, Sunday-Friday, and from 10:00am to 6:00pm on Saturday. Immaculate Conception Catholic Church was documented by the Historic American Buildings Survey.

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